Four Intangible Leadership Qualities That You Can Acquire

January 9, 2017
Mary Jo Asmus

When you observe leaders that you admire, you might notice that they have certain qualities that are difficult to describe but are appealing and effective. They might cause you to think, “There’s just something wonderful about that leader that I can’t describe.” Some would call this charisma. You might be surprised to discover that you too can develop these charismatic qualities.

It takes hard work and persistence to embody these qualities, but it is possible! Here they are with some information about how leaders grow these qualities in themselves and how they can support others in developing them too:


Leaders with charisma have a lot of energy. They seem to be able to keep going no matter the circumstances around them. Energetic leaders work hard behind the scenes to take care of themselves by exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, and paying attention to what makes them happy including spending time with friends, family, or hobbies. These leaders are well rounded, and don’t feel that there is anything missing from their lives. You can develop charismatic energy by putting a priority on taking care of yourself in all areas of your life.


Daniel Pink describes drive as being made up of autonomy (self-direction), mastery (working to get better at something) and purpose (connecting to something larger than oneself). That definition seems just about right. I’d also include the ability to work within one’s personal values (which might be aligned to the higher purpose too). When you are well connected with, and aware of what matters most to you, you too can develop drive.


Leaders who are able to recover from adversity and failure can be inspiring. The leaders who are best able to bounce back are those who put their failures into perspective and learn from them. They have a support network that can pick them up when they’re down, and they don’t stay down long. You can develop resilience by having people around you that can help you to maintain perspective and stay connected to a higher purpose.


Chances are that you’ve been connected with leaders who know you well and appreciate you. They relate to you by sharing your hopes, dreams, and your failures. They understand you and know what it means to walk a mile in your shoes. In other words, they have empathy. They just seem to understand and care about people. You can develop empathy by listening to others without judging them and understanding their point of view, even when it is vastly different from your own.

Charisma can be broken down to a few qualities that can be developed. All of these qualities can be acquired by becoming more self-aware through observing your thoughts, emotions, and actions, and then making a plan to change your behaviors.

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Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small- sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.

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